12/11/13 — Student, 15, starts his own reading campaign

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Student, 15, starts his own reading campaign

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 11, 2013 1:46 PM

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Wayne Country Day School sophomore Nolan Davis works on his homework during study hall Tuesday. Davis is leading a drive to collect donations and books for "Reach Out and Read," a program that provides books to children.

Nolan Davis has always enjoyed a good book.

"I like to read, pretty much anything," he said. "When I was little, my parents would read to me, but mostly I just always liked to read."

The 15-year-old now realizes that he is among the fortunate because his parents, Mike and Bernice Davis of Mount Olive, instilled the love of reading into their three children.

Such is not the case for every child, something the sophomore at Wayne Country Day School learned during his regular doctor visits.

"I get allergy shots at Mount Olive Pediatrics. On their TV screen, I have pretty much got it memorized because I have to go every two weeks or so," he said. "I saw that 35 percent of people starting kindergarten don't read and, like, young kids don't know how to read or they're not age-appropriate (reading skill levels).

"That was really shocking and sad. Everyone should know how to read. I think we should try to push everyone to read."

The four offices of Goldsboro Pediatrics -- which also include LaGrange and Princeton -- promote the national program, "Reach Out a Read" and physicians regularly hand out new books to patients from age 6 months old to 5 years old.

Nolan, an aspiring physician, took the message to "Reach Out and Read" literally. He decided to start his own personal drive to raise money and books for the local effort.

"People need to own books to read," he said. "You need to try to help everyone know how to read. It's one of those essential things."

Earlier this month, he launched a campaign. He has been sending out letters and emails through his school, area Chambers of Commerce and businesses, including his dad's place of employment, Tri County Electric.

"They usually have a Christmas party and every year they pick a charity. This year, they're doing a book drive so everyone is buying books," he said.

"It's an ongoing thing but my goal is to raise at least $2,000. I'm asking pretty much everyone."

The effort can only reinforce the mission of the program, said Dr. Siegfried Yeh of Goldsboro Pediatrics.

"The idea is that we have a captive audience," he said. "They have to come to the doctor's office for check-ups, immunizations, etc. At every check-up, regardless of economic status, or insurance, every child (6 months to 5 years old) is supposed to get an age-appropriate book."

The push for parents to read to a child and encourage him to take up the habit is critical to school, and life, success, Dr. Yeh said.

"If a child starts school at a point when they're already behind, it can be so difficult to catch up," he said. "The big push has been to try to catch these children, especially during the important time prior to school."

Reach Out and Read has been a part of Goldsboro Pediatrics for over a decade, Dr. Yeh said.

"We have been doing this since 2003," he said. "(It's) funded by individual donors, community businesses as well as the national Reach Out and Read sustainability grant.

"We're very fortunate in getting a lot of support from the community, from businesses and individuals."

To illustrate the vastness of the effort, Dr. Yeh said in the last fiscal year alone, the practice gave out 14,200 books to the 6,400 children seen at the four area offices.

"Multiply that by 10 (years)," he said. "We're actually looking at $2.50 to $4 apiece and we're purchasing them."

So to see one of the practice's younger patrons ensuring the program continues just reinforces its importance, Dr. Yeh said.

"I think it's wonderful that Nolan has taken that on as, I guess as a project. That's just wonderful for a young person to do that," he said.

New books can be dropped off at Wayne Country Day School. Checks can be made payable to GWCHF, or Greater Wayne Children's Health Foundation, and mailed to Nolan Davis, 182 Jeff Outlaw Road, Mount Olive, NC 28365.

For more information, call 919-658-0227.

For suggestions of books, visit www.reachoutandread.org.